John Loring's New Book Draws on Joseph Urban Archive at the RBML
NEW YORK, September 22, 2010 –

Two years in the making, Joseph Loring's magnificent book, Joseph Urban, is in stores this month. The more than 200 full-color illustrations documenting the astonishing career of architect and set designer Joseph Urban were almost all selected from the Joseph Urban archive held by Columbia's Rare Book & Manuscript Library.


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Much more than just a picture book, John Loring's Introduction provides a major introduction to the career of Joseph Urban, who was once a household name, and is today unjustly forgotten. The captions provide a wealth of details about the opera, theater, architecture, and other projects that Urban completed before his untimely death in 1933 at the age of 61. Moreover, Loring has selected and paired images of Urban's work to bring out the richness of his ideas and his revolutionary use of color. The production values set and achieved by Abrams are extraordinary. Color proofs were examined side by side with Urban's original drawings in RBML.

The Urban archive came to Columbia in 1958, the gift of his widow and daughter, and was first held by the Brander Matthews Dramatic Museum. When that facility closed in 1971, the 27,000 items in the collection were transferred to RBML, where grants from the Delmas Foundation and the Preservation and Access Program of the National Endowment for the Humanities have made the collection available for use.

John Loring, design director of Tiffany & Co. from 1979 to 2010, continues to serve as Tiffany's design director emeritus. He is the author of twenty-three books, fourteen of them published by Abrams, including Tiffany Style, Tiffany Diamonds, Tiffany Flora & Fauna, and Tivoli Gardens, and has been a regular contributor to Architectural Digest for more than thirty-five years.

To accompany Loring's book, RBML will mount a major exhibition of Urban's work, curated by Jennifer B. Lee, to be on display in the Kempner Exhibition Gallery, RBML, Butler Library, from October 4 through December 23. John Loring will speak on “Joseph Urban: The Urbane Architect” on October 13, at 6:00, in Butler Library Room 523. Portions of the exhibition will travel to the Flagler Museum in Palm Beach to be mounted in a separate Joseph Urban exhibition slated to open in February, 2011.

For further information, contact Jennifer B. Lee, Curator of Performing Arts, at 212-854-4048 or jbl100@columbia.edu.

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library owns over 500,000 rare books in some 20 book collections and almost 28 million manuscripts in nearly 3,000 separate manuscript collections. It is particularly strong in English and American literature and history, classical authors, children‘s literature, education, mathematics and astronomy, economics and banking, photography, the history of printing, New York City politics, librarianship, and the performing arts. Individual collections are as eclectic as they are extensive. For more information, please see: /content/libraryweb/indiv/rbml.html

Columbia University Libraries/Information Services is one of the top five academic research library systems in North America. The collections include over 10 million volumes, over 100,000 journals and serials, as well as extensive electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, maps, graphic and audio-visual materials. The services and collections are organized into 22 libraries and various academic technology centers. The Libraries employs more than 550 professional and support staff. The website of the Libraries is the gateway to its services and resources: library.columbia.edu.  

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